Tuesday, September 30, 2008

P.F. Chang's China Bistro and Pei Wei Asian Diner

I've long been a huge fan of P.F. Chang's China Bistro. The food is high quality, and delicious! Much to my great pleasure post-diagnosis, they have a gluten-free menu! This is fantastic, not only for the sake of the menu itself, but also because you can find P.F. Chang's restaurants in many cities across the country. And since my work schedule can sometimes have me on the road, it's comforting to know that I can find a place where I can eat a tasty and safe dinner.


They have a dedicated wok station for GF food. The sauce is made with garlic, ginger, rice wine, chicken stock, Sichuan powder, salt, sugar, and wheat-free soy sauce. And they "flour" their chicken and thicken their marinades with corn starch.

Some of my personal favorite dishes include the Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chang's Spicy Chicken, and the Singapore Street Noodles. To see the rest of the gluten-free menu, visit their website here. And to see if there's a P.F. Chang's near you, use the website's locator feature here.

It turns out that the same folks that own P.F. Chang's also offer up Pei Wei Asian Diner, a more budget-friendly, casual dining experience (like Seattle's Best Coffee versus Starbucks, or Toyota versus Lexus). The food is still great, though. And while Pei Wei's gluten-free menu is very limited (compared to both the full standard menu and P.F. Chang's GF menu), it's a gluten-free menu none the less, and I've happily eaten there many times. I recommend the Pei Wei Spicy Chicken. To see if there's a Pei Wei near you, use their locator on the website.

Between P.F. Chang's and Pei Wei, you can be sure to find a gluten-free, safe and delicious Asian dining experience. I certainly have.

- Pete

Monday, September 29, 2008

Applegate Farms

Applegate Farms is one of those rare companies that I love in so many ways. The New Jersey-based company got its start roughly 20 years ago when founder Steve McDonnell wondered about a simple question: What if you weren't afraid to read the list of ingredients on a package of hot dogs? That can be quite a question indeed! And as a guy who ate more than his share of hot dogs in college (Louis Rich turkey dogs for me, back then), I feel like a pretty good authority on the topic. Since then, Applegate has been answering that question via its products, which are natural in all the best senses of the word.

Firstly, they're gluten-free. In addition - get ready for a long list - they're also cassein free, dairy free, antibiotic free, filler free, certified organic by the USDA, certified humane by the Humane Farm Animal Care organization, naturally made with whole cuts of meat, and sourced from small, family farms. And, in a move I've personally never seen done by a company before, you can trace your food from its source to your plate. For example, start with a Google map that shows the precise location of all of Applegate's chicken farmers, and then follow that chicken as it makes its way to your plate, with thorough descriptions of how the chickens are treated, grown, processed, etc. It's an element of transparency seldom seen in these days of frequent corporate scandal, and one that I think breeds a more ethical and natural meat product. Check it out for yourself here.

Lastly, there's the issue of flavor. I'm happy to report that Applegate Farms delivers. I've long been a huge fan of the natural Black Forest Ham and Smoked Turkey cold cuts (deli meats). The company's hot dogs also regularly garner rave reviews and high rankings from all sorts of media outlets and food reviewers. As our local supermarket expands its list of stocked Applegate products (our grocery store is currently finishing up a renovation), I'll be expanding my purchasing practices to include some of Applegate's other meats as well.

As the company says on its website, "there are countless people who have a love/hate relationship with meat, and are thrilled to finally find meat products they can feel good about eating." That's very true, not only from the perspective of being worry-free that gluten might be used as a filler, but also from the perspective that things were done right, done humanely, and done healthfully.

- Pete

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pizza, Take 2

If you've read our blog post with the recipe for Margherita Pizza, you know that we're big fans of the Chebe pizza crust mix. We recently made another version of the margherita pizza. Our basil plant is at the end of its useful lifespan, so this time around, we've used dried basil and oregano, instead of the fresh stuff. The pizza also has a generous portion of freshly minced garlic in olive oil, drizzled over the top of the mozzarella cheese and tomato slices.

A word on our pizza cooking technique: we use a preheated 375-degree oven with a pizza stone inside. I sprinkle the pizza stone with corn meal, and do the same on the wooden paddle, in order to prevent the dough from sticking. Usually, I work the dough on the counter using both my hands and a rolling pin, until the uncooked crust is about one eighth of an inch thick. Then I carefully transfer the crust onto my paddle. I par-bake the crust (bake it without any toppings) for about eight to ten minutes. Then pull it out of the oven, do all the toppings, and pop it back into the oven until it's done cooking. And voila! Delicious pizza.

- Pete

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Shabtai Gourmet

Kelli and I recently received a package in the mail containing a sampling of products from Shabtai Gourmet, a Kosher-certified bakery in Long Island, NY. I got on the phone with Director of Sales Andrew Itzkowitz to learn more about the company's background and its products.

Shabtai Gourmet is a division of Cinderella Sweets, a family-run company with Andrew's mom, Cindy, as the president, and Andrew's dad, Shabtai, as its head baker. Shabtai (the father) began experimenting with gluten-free foods, responding to a need in the Jewish community, particularly during Passover. But what they soon found was that their gluten-free foods were becoming popular with the non-Kosher, non-Jewish crowds as well. According to Andrew, one customer from New Hampshire would buy up to 15 cakes all at once during Passover, and then store them in a dedicated freezer for his wife (who has Celiacs) to eat throughout the year!

To make a long story short, Shabtai Gourmet now makes a line of 16 GF products, ranging from cakes to cookies. They're available year-round in stores throughout the Northeast and Midwest, including the Wegmans grocery store chain, and more recently, 10 Shop Rite stores, including the one in Monroe, NY, near Kiryas Joel. During Passover, you're likely to find them nationwide. Shabtai Gourmet is also very supportive of different Celiac groups, including the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and the company regularly sends packages of free samples to different Celiac support groups around the country.

So, you must be wondering, what did Kelli and I think of the treats we tried? Shabtai Gourmet sent us four products out of their line of 16 to try: Rainbow Cookies, Brownie Bites, Ring Ting Cupcakes, and the Rasberry Roll. Before I launch into our assessment, a disclaimer - Kelli and I have high standards when it comes to store-bought, pre-made foods. As you know from some of our previous posts, we're big fans of making things at home from scratch, and we believe that doing so results in a treat that is fresher, tastier, and healthier. But we understand that there will be people for whom that approach doesn't hold the same appeal. In those cases, bakeries like Shabtai Gourmet can be the way to go, and here's what we thought of the treats we tried.

Rainbow Cookies
In a word, these were exceptional. They were moist, with rich flavor and perfect texture. Coming from an Italian family on Long Island, I used to eat Rainbow Cookies like these as a kid, bought from one of the many Italian bakeries that dot every community on the Island. Eating Shabtai's Rainbow Cookies took me right back to those days - they were delicious, and you couldn't tell they were gluten-free.

Alas, there's a bit of a black cloud hanging over these treats and some of the others from Shabtai Gourmet. They're made using partially hydrogenated oils, which is another way of saying trans fat. I won't belabor the details here, but suffice it to say that trans fats are very bad for you...bad enough that earlier this year California took the step of banning the use of trans fats to prepare food in restaurants. I'm happy to report, though, that there's a silver lining to this black cloud. I asked Andrew Itzkowitz if Shabtai Gourmet has plans to phase out the use of trans fats, and he confirmed that they're currently working with a company to develop a suitable Kosher-certified, trans fat free shortening to use in their products. Also, to be fair, it's worth noting that the amount of trans fat in Shabtai's products is low. The FDA guideline permits companies to label a product as having zero trans fat if the content is less than 0.5g per serving, and by that standard, Shabtai's foods pass the test. But those of us who are Celiac or otherwise gluten-free know that there's a decided difference between low something in our food, and no something in our food, and I can take a pretty hard line on these types of issues. 'Nuff said.

Brownie Bites
The Brownie Bites were average. They had good flavor, not great, and a tough, dry texture. For our money, we think you're better off going with our Brownie Recipe.

Ring Ting Cupcakes
The Ring Ting Cupcakes are Shabtai's version of the Hostess Ho Ho. Now, neither Kelli nor I were ever a big fan of Ho Hos in the first place, but we imagine that if you liked Ho Hos in your gluten days, you'd love Ring Tings now that you're gluten-free. Although just a touch on the dry and crumbly side, the texture of the cupcake was still very nice, and the flavor was very good.

Rasberry Roll
The Rasberry Roll scored high marks with both me and Kelli. It's a little on the super-sweet side, but the flavor of the rasberry is great, and pairs very well with the coconut flakes on the outside. The yellow cake that comprises the rest of the roll is deliciously moist. This one is a winner.

In the end, of the four treats we tried, Shabtai Gourmet offered us a mixed bag - some good or great, some not as much. I'd be curious to try some of their other products, which have received good reviews from customers and other food reviewers. If Shabtai successfully removes the trans fats from its full line of products, I wouldn't hesitate to order a box (or several) of the Rainbow Cookies. I'd also wager that, if you value the convenience and ease of store-bought cakes and cookies, Shabtai Gourmet will be a winner in your kitchen. And just to sweeten the pot, Shabtai is currently offering free shipping on orders sent anywhere within the continental United States. So, if you don't find their products in your local store, they're making it pretty hard to say no to giving them a try.

- Pete

UPDATE 7/15/09: Shabtai Gourmet has been working to remove trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and other "disagreeable" ingredients (see our criticism, above) from its line of baked goods. All of the products haven't made the transition...yet. But it's happening, and we're glad to hear it. Consider it the pot of gold at the end of a Shabtai Rainbow Cookie. =)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Recipe: Meatloaf

It's definitely starting to feel like fall has arrived here in Colorado. The days are clear and sunny, and comfortably warm, but the nights are crisp and cold. The aspen are well into their change of color from vivid green to bright yellow. This shift in the weather also gets me thinking about a shift in cooking - slowly away from the summertime meals we've been enjoying for the last several months, and toward the good old comfort food that sits in your belly (in a good way!) and keeps you warm at night. For me, meatloaf fits the bill. And here's how I make it:

Start with about 2 - 2.5 pounds of ground meat. I go for lean ground turkey, but use your favorite (or a blend of ground meats). This quantity will make a good-sized loaf that will feed a family for dinner (or provide ample leftovers, if you're a smaller group...like a couple). Season the ground meat starting with our meatball recipe ratios as a base, but with two minor modifications. 1) Roughly double the quantity of bread crumbs. And 2) Add cumin and paprika to spice the meatloaf up a bit more. Form the seasoned meat into a loaf and bake it in a 350-degree oven until done (you can use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat, and/or cut into the loaf to check the interior). I like my meatloaf to brown on the outside, but stay moist on the inside. Lastly, enjoy!

- Pete

Monday, September 22, 2008

Homemade Waffles

Kelli and I have discovered over the last 1.5 years or so that breakfasts are some of the easiest meals to make in superb gluten-free versions. Okay - we haven't tried bagels...yet. As a native of Long Island, I'd love to achieve such a coup! But we have tried pancakes, muffins, and...waffles! Our friends and family can't tell the difference - the waffles are light, with perfect texture, and most importantly, delicious! We use a Belgian waffle iron and pure Vermont maple syrup. Waffles like these make it easy to forget about the gluten!

- Pete



Friday, September 19, 2008

Travel: Los Cabos, Mexico

Last week, Kelli and I traveled down to Los Cabos, on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California Sur. We were both craving some relaxation on a beach in a warm climate (especially since our last international vacation was a high-altitude mountaineering trip to Bolivia!). With our five year wedding anniversary coming up later this year, we had all the reason we needed to book the trip. But with Kelli due just one month after our anniversary, we went to Mexico early in the hopes of avoiding any pregnancy snafus.

We stayed at the Hilton Los Cabos, along The Corridor - the stretch of coast between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. It was a beautiful property with wonderfully attentive service.

During our first day, we took a bus into San Jose del Cabo for lunch (above photo). San Jose is the quieter, more artsy sister to the parties and crowds of Cabo San Lucas. We strolled through art galleries, and stopped for lunch at a local place (I wish I could remember the name) that served the most delicious chicken fajitas, complete with onions, peppers, and 100% corn soft tortillas.

Before hopping on the bus to ride back to the hotel, we slipped into a bodega to see what snacks might be on-hand. I'm not normally a soda drinker - I try to avoid the overdose of high fructose corn syrup - but many years ago, I developed an addication to orange-flavored Fanta while in Latin American countries. Don't ask how the association developed. I can't explain it. Regardless, U.S.-based Fanta contains Modified Food Starch, which can be a hidden source of gluten. As such, I don't drink it. But the Mexican formulation is gloriously free of MFS. It's mostly sugar. I couldn't resist picking up a 3-liter bottle (more Fanta than any one person should reasonably drink!).

That same night, Kelli and I dined at Fenicia, a restaurant at the Hilton Los Cabos resort. Service was superb, and the food was outstanding. The waiters and chef were knowledgeable, asking about any food allergies or other needs. I was able to tell them about my need for no gluten, and they were happy to accomodate. Kelli and I started with scallops wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon, served over a mango chutney. For dinner, Kelli had grilled mahi mahi with senorita mushrooms and asparagus. I had Sea of Cortez sea bass with leek, tomato, pesto oil, and a sweet potato mash. Unfortunately, all of the desserts were off limits. But Kelli and I were pleasantly surprised when the wait staff brought a complimentary dessert of sorbet with chocolate-dipped rice crackers...a gluten-free delight made special just for us!

The following day we journeyed into Cabo San Lucas. That morning, I was on assignment visiting an orphanage in a neighborhood outside of town. My hosts at the orphanage - Roberto and Caballo - took Kelli and me out to lunch at a local spot in Cabo, well off the main drag. It's called Gardenias, and specializes in shrimp and fish tacos. We were very impressed! Our hosts know their lunch spots for sure!

That night for dinner we strolled the streets before dinner, passing an outdoor taqueria - a taco stand with seating nearby - where a woman was making a pile of fresh tortillas in preparation for the dinner crowds. The smells coming off the mesquite charcoal barbeque were to die for! Then we walked around the block to Marisqueria Mazatlan, where we planned to eat dinner. The restaurant came highly recommended...by locals, and by our guide book.

Mazatlan lived up to its reputation. The fresh chips (100% corn) with three different salsas were excellent. My garlic shrimp was delicious. And Kelli's chicken mole was deliciously smoky and chocolatey (that might be a made-up word).

In the end we had to cut our trip short and return to Colorado because of complications with the pregnancy. Kelli and the baby are both healthy and doing well, but it was prudent to come home and be close to our doctors and hospital. But our time in Mexico was great, brief as it was. The vacation was a culinary delight, complete with oodles of gluten-free options that left our taste buds, and our stomachs, more than satisfied.
- Pete

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Empanadas

Every so often, I attend social events in Denver for media folks hosted by MediaBistro, a professional organization based out of NYC. It was at one of these events several months ago that I met Rebecca, a food and travel writer, and the blogger behind From Argentina With Love, a delightful blog about the food and culture of rural Argentina, where her husband is from. We've become fast friends, and over the last two months, she's offered Kelli and me wonderful insights into the world of blogging as we worked to get No Gluten, No Problem off the ground.

All the while, we thought it would be fun to try a simul-blog, overlapping the food interests of From Argentina With Love and NGNP. Well, here it is! And empanadas are the modus operandi. Rebecca's blog features an Empanada of the Month, a popular feature that always looks delicious. At their most basic, empanadas are a dough stuffed with different fillings. The dough is reminiscent of pastry dough, and is usually formed into a thin circle, which when folded over becomes a semi-circle. Fillings can range from savory to sweet.

When I asked Rebecca for a recommended empanada version to make, she suggested the Margherita Empanada, which is filled with mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and tomatoes. "That sounds awfully Italian!" I wrote back. It turns out that Argentina has a very strong Italian heritage, and so one shouldn't be surprised to see such influences in the food. I learn something new every day it seems.

Empanada dough can be store-bought, already pre-cut into convenient discs, but of course those aren't gluten-free. The trick for us was to create a gluten-free empanada dough. We modified an empanada dough recipe from Gourmet magazine, which looked unbelieveably similar to Kelli's grandmother's recipe for pie crust. Gluten-free pie crust or pastry dough has been our toughest challenge to date - it's difficult to create, and even harder to work with (it's very fragile). This time was no different, but we were very happy with the results, which tasted great.

We ended up deciding to make two versions of empanadas. We made the Margherita Empanadas, and we also made Cinnamon-Peach Empanadas. As per the instructions on the From Argentina With Love blog, we sealed the empanadas using the repulgue technique, which is a way of folding and crimping the empanadas to create a beautifully scalloped edge. Of course, with our first go around, our scalloped edge doesn't look nearly as elegant as Rebecca's. It also didn't help that you're supposed to brush the empanadas with an egg wash to give them a deep, golden color when they cook. We used our last eggs to make the gluten-free dough, and so had to improvise - olive oil on the savory empanadas, milk on the sweet empanadas. Neither gave us the desired result, and so our empanadas came out of the oven looking a little pale, like they could use some extra time in the sun.

The most important judge of any food is the taste, however. And by that measure, our empanadas were a success! We're confident that, with a little practice, our repulgue technique will improve, we'll remember to save an egg for the egg wash, and our empanadas will only get better. But if our starting point is any judge, we're on the right track. In the meantime, if you're looking for empanada inspiration, or simply looking to journey further through the cuisine and culture of Argentina, I hope you'll take the time to peruse From Argentina With Love. And who knows...if you create your own successful GF empanada, just maybe it'll earn a spot as an Empanada of the Month!
- Pete

Monday, September 8, 2008

Recipe: Spaghetti with Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

This past Saturday, my buddy Jeff and I did an alpine rock climb in Rocky Mountain National Park. We climbed a route called The Great Dihedral, on the First Buttress of the peak's north face. Needless to say, we worked up quite an appetite, and during our drive back to Boulder, Jeff shared that lasagna was on his dinner menu for that night. That gave me quite the craving for Italian, and so one night later, Kelli and I tag-teamed in the kitchen to make spaghetti with meatballs in a marinara sauce...one of our odds-on favorites!

Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
salt
pepper

Steps:
  • In a medium saucepan, saute garlic and onion in a little olive oil.
  • Add the basil and oregano, saute a little more.
  • Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Let flavors meld over medium heat.
  • Blend the sauce using a hand-held immersion blender. Let simmer five to ten more minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Meatballs

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups GF bread crumbs
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 lb. ground turkey
2 eggs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Steps:
  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
  • Form into meatballs slightly larger than golf ball-sized. Makes about 16 meatballs.
  • Heat olive oil in a saute pan on the stovetop, and brown the meatballs.
  • Finish the meatballs by cooking on a sheet pan for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Final Preparation:

  • Cook your favorite GF pasta.
  • Add the marina sauce to the pasta in a pot. Mix well.
  • Add the meatballs. Mix and serve.
  • Enjoy!

Tips:

  • This is a recipe where you're meant to get your hands dirty! Take off your rings and other jewelry and dig in there with your hands to mix the ground meat and seasonings, and to form the meatballs.
  • When it comes to gluten-free breadcrumbs, you don't have to be picky. Typically, we make our own breadcrumbs using whatever "bread" we happen to have in the house. In the past we've used leftover GF pancakes, stale slices of bread, arepas (a South American corn pancake), whatever. Take two or three slices of bread, pancakes, etc., and pulse them in the food processor to make quick, easy and inexpensive GF breadcrumbs!
  • When you're preparing to brown the meatballs, make sure you pre-heat the olive oil. If you place a meatball into the saute pan and it doesn't begin to sizzle almost immediately, it means your oil isn't hot enough. Olive oil that's too cool won't cook and brown the meatballs, and instead will just be absorbed into the ground meat, resulting in a greasy meatball. (Don't overheat your olive oil, either. If the oil is smoking, turn down the heat!)

- Pete

Friday, September 5, 2008

Recipe: Fudge Brownies from Scratch

Brownies are one the easiest recipes to make gluten-free in a version that tastes just like the original - oh so tasty, moist, and chewy! And you can make them from scratch with basic ingredients!

For this recipe, Kelli and I have used a homemade gluten-free flour mix in the 4-3-2-1 ratio. 4 teaspoons Xantham gum. 3 cups Tapioca flour. 2 cups Rice flour. And 1 cup Sorghum flour. The ratio isn't quite right for other types of gluten-free baking, but for brownies it works great!

Here's the rest of what you need to know:

Ingredients
1/2 cups + 2 tbsp butter
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cups GF flour

Steps

  • Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat and mix in cocoa powder. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in eggs, sugar and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, beat lightly until combined.
  • Stir in flour.
  • Spread batter in the baking pan.
  • Bake in 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until your desired degree of "doneness."
  • Let cool and cut into bars.
  • Enjoy!

- Pete

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

General Mills' Rice Chex

Growing up we had basically three kinds of cereal in the house: Cheerios, Kix, and Raisin Bran. All the rest - the Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, etc. - were all "candy," according to my mom. As I grew older, I expanded my taste in cereals, though I never strayed far from my upbringing. I added Rice Chex, Corn Chex, and Crispix to my list of regulars. All pretty tame selections, and fairly healthy too, as cereals go.

When I went gluten-free, those cereals all became off limits. As corn- and rice-based cereals, you'd think they'd be gluten-free, but most cereal companies use barley malt extract in their recipes, thus adding gluten to a cereal that otherwise would be okay to eat. I heard that General Mills had recently modified their recipe to make their Rice Chex gluten-free. On a whim, last night Kelli and I strolled down the regular cereal aisle of our grocery store - something we only do these days if she has a craving for frosted mini wheats or another treat - to see if the new and improved Rice Chex had hit the shelves.

Sure enough, there it was - Rice Chex, with "gluten-free" labeled prominently on the front of the package. I read the ingredients to double-check, and sure enough, barley malt extract was conspicuously absent from the list. Hooray for General Mills! I immediately threw a box into our shopping cart, and gobbled down a bowl of Rice Chex as part of my breakfast this morning. Keep in mind, the remainder of the Chex line of cereals, including Corn Chex, are NOT gluten-free. They still contain barley malt extract. But you can now enjoy Rice Chex to your heart's content, and the company has even added a list of gluten-free recipes to its website.

- Pete

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Baby Showers and Buffets

As you may already know (or may have guessed looking at Kelli in some of our pictures), Kelli and I are expecting our first child later this year. She's due in December, and this past weekend, we flew to Ithaca, NY - Kelli's hometown and the hometown of our alma mater, Cornell University - where her sisters and parents threw us a wonderful baby shower.

You might notice lots of yellow rubber duckies, and both pink AND blue pacifiers. To answer the inevitable question, no, we don't know what we're having. We plan to wait until Baby Bronski is born to find out the sex. There are so few genuine surprises in life, and we figure this is one we don't want to pass up on. I have to laugh sometimes. People are shocked at our decision. They can't believe that, given the option to know, we would decline to find out. Then they're quick to point out we're bound to receive a lot of things that are yellow or green. Well, for one, we happen to like yellow and green as colors (along with "espresso," they're the colors of the nursery). But for another, if we knew it was a boy or a girl, I'm pretty confident we'd received a lot of blue or pink. You're bound to get a lot of one color one way or another!

Of course, one surprise I'm not keen on is gluten in my food. Thankfully, Kelli's sisters and mom went to great lengths to plan a buffet menu that had plenty of gluten-free options. There was the caprese salad, a traditional Italian combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then there were the delicious fruit-kabobs, with fresh, ripe watermelon, pineapple, canteloupe, and honeydew mellon. For dessert, they made three cakes, one of which was a gluten-free cholocate cake kept separate from the others.

But my favorite by far was the pulled pork. My sister-in-law, Karla, lives near Dallas, and used her true-to-Texas recipe. My father-in-law, Bob, executed Karla's recipe on his new Green Egg grill. While I'm not up on all the particulars, I do know several key facts about the process. A) It involved 6 ten-pound pork shoulders (that's 60 pounds of meat! Can you say leftovers?). B) It involved some 15 hours of smoking and cooking the shoulders over low heat. And C) It involved copious quantities of Brooks' B-B-Q Sauce, a gluten-free barbeque sauce from the restaurant with the same name in Oneonta, NY, an old favorite of Kelli's family.

The food was scrumptious, seeing family and friends was great, and above all else, Kelli and I eagerly look forward to welcoming Baby Bronski into our gluten-free world later this year!
- Pete